Family • Amaranthaceae - Iresine herbstii Hook. - BLOODLEAF - Xue xian

Common names

Dahong pula (Tag.)
Bloodleaf (Engl.)
Beefsteak plant (Engl.)
Chicken gizzard (Engl.)
Xue xian (Chin.)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Central nervous system pharmacological effects of plants from Northern Peruvian Andes: Valeriana adscendens, Iresine herbstii and Brugmansia arborea / Capasso Anna and De Feo Vincenzo / Pharmaceutical Biology, Volume 40,ÊNumber 4, June 2002 , pp. 274-293(20)

(2) In Vitro Binding Receptors Study by Valeriana adscendens, Iresine herbstii and Brugmansia arborea extracts / A. Capasso and V. De Feo / Medicinal Chemistry, Volume 3, Number 6, November 2007 , pp. 599-60

(3) CNS pharmacological effects of aqueous extract from Iresine herbstii / De Feo V et al / International journal of pharmacognosy, 1996, vol. 34, no3, pp. 184-188

(4) Identification and Distribution of Simple and Acylated Betacyanins in the Amaranthaceae / Yizhong Cai et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2001, 49 (4), pp 1971–1978 / DOI: 10.1021/jf000963h

Low annual herb. Leaves are broadly ovate or orbicular, purple-red wih lighter colored prominent arched veins. A common variety has green or reddish-green leaves with yellow veins. Flowers are small. Tepals greenish white or yellowish-white.

Native to tropical America.
Cultivated throughout the Philippines.



• No folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
• In southern Brazil, used for wound healing.
• In the northern Peruvian Andes, used for magic-therapeutical purposes where traditional healers use it to expel evil spirits from the body.
• Used in association with other plants, such as Trichocereus pachanos, for divination, for diagnosing diseases, to take possession of another identity or for other ritualistic healing uses.

Study Findings
• CNS Effects / Ritual Use: Studied to evaluate if the central effects of Iresine herbstii with Brugmansia arborea could be associated with interaction with SNC receptors. The results of the experiments indicate that Iresine herbstii methanolic extract was able to interact with the central 5-HT2C and D1 receptors and Iresine herbstii aqueous extract showed affinity for D2 receptors, thus confirming their ritual use.
• CNS Effects: Animal experiments indicate the plants were able to significantly reduce the central nervous system activity. The reduction of motor coordination and stereotyped behaviour together with induced locomotor activity support the possibility that all the studied plants act as psychotropic agents, thus confirming their ritual use. CNSpharmacological effects of aqueous extract from Iresine herbstii: An aqueous extract showed significant reduction of locomotor activity, motor coordination and stereotyped behavior of mice. Results suggest that I. herbstii induces significant effects on selected aspects of the CNS.
• Betacyanins / Natural Colorants: Red-colored plants in the family Amaranthaceae are a rich source of unique betacyanins. A study of 37 species of 8 genera in Amaranthaceae isolated 6 simple betacyanins and 10 acylated betacyanins. The highest proportion of acylated betacyanins occurred in Iresine herbstii. Comparted to wild species, cultivated species contain more acylated betacyanins, a potential source of pigments as natural colorants.